According to her autobiography, Why Suffer?: How I Overcame Illness & Pain Naturally, she was first exposed to herbs and natural remedies as a child in Lithuania, by observing her grandmother. When Western medicine proved unable to solve her health problems as an adult, she began researching and testing various whole foods and diet approaches which, she says, not only cleared up her medical problems but changed her life.
Ann Wigmore died in a fire in 1993 , but a number of institutes carry on her work by offering educational programs and retreats, home study courses, recipes, books, and other resources, including:
Celebrities who follow a raw food diet include actress Rue McClanahan, actor Woody Harrelson, model Carol Alt, designer Donna Karan, and Chicago-based celebrity chef Charlie Trotter. McClanahan is a regular visitor to the Optimum Health Institute.
In addition, medical professionals worry that claims of cures of serious diseases such as cancer may discourage individuals from seeking more conventional treatments that medical research has shown to be effective, thus actually endangering rather than helping them, similar to the hyperbole surrounding laetrile in the 1980s. Diane Stadler of the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland says, "Some raw food web sites suggest that you can treat certain chronic diseases by consuming a raw food diet. That frightens me as a medical professional. Some people will accept that as truth and delay seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment...[which] could seriously impact long-term well-being."